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Vertical Lift Modules: 9 Reasons Why a VLM is the Best Next Step To Drastically Improve Your Operations and Warehousing

  1. Space Savings, Use that Clear Height!

The most significant benefit of a VLM is the use of your space’s clear height. A VLM takes up a minimum footprint relative to traditional shelving and racking, and takes advantage of ceiling height to maximize your storage potential. A typical VLM solution can save 90% of valuable warehouse floorspace, delivering a 12-18 month ROI on average.

  1. More Orders in Less Time

Some customers have seen up to 85% improvement in workforce productivity after installing a VLM into their operations. Travel time for parts picking is reduced significantly, up to 90%.

  1. Versatile Storage

VLMs can store an enormous variety of material shapes, sizes, and weights. Here are common types of material that we have seen:

  • Small Parts and Hardware
  • Tools
  • Tooling fixtures and Drill Bits
  • Pharmaceuticals, boxes, and cosmetics
  • Reels and Electronic Components
  • Spools, Rope, and Chains
  • Bottles and Labels
  • Pipe stock


Additionally, the trays of a VLM are completely modular, a blank slate enabling each VLM tray to be customized with a variety of partitions and dividers arranged for the exact storage need.


  1. Easy to Operate

A popular selling-point for a VLM is their ease of use. A new user can be trained to retrieve, pick, and store material in a VLM in a matter of minutes. A user-interface console attached to the VLM is used to retrieve a specific SKU either automatically from a WMS or ERP command or manually by barcode scanner or typing on the console. Once the correct tray has been retrieved and presented to the picker, some VLM’s can even direct pickers to the correct location in the tray with a laser pointer.


  1. Quick and Simple Install

Due to their modular nature, most VLMs are quickly installed from one flatbed trailer (depending on VLM size) in 1-2 weeks. 


  1. Reduced Safety Risk

Drastically reduce the amount of walking and the number of times that employees have to climb stairs or mezzanines to retrieve your goods. Additionally, VLM’s can be coupled with a zer-weight attachment on a jib crane or a picking robotic arm to minimize personnel lifting requirements.


  1. Inventory Management and Visibility

The Software that is included with most reputable VLM vendors provides a game-changing level of management and visibility. Working with standard ERP and WMS solutions already in place in your operations, your VLM will have its own onboard WMS that performs all the standard duties you would expect from a WMS for the material stored within the VLM or VLMs.

  • Stock control and Traceability
  • Inventory Awareness
  • Security via Access Control
  • Remote Support
  • Over-the-air-updates
  • In-depth analytics to improve Picking and Replenishment performance
  • Reduced paperwork and tedium

Additionally, a silver-lining of installing and filling a new VLM offers you the unique and rare opportunity to fully take stock of and reorganize your stored material exactly how you want it.


  1. Applicable for a wide variety of industries

A VLM can improve storage efficiency, security, and picking accuracy in many industries. Here are the top picks from our experience, but of course the list could be longer:

  • Aerospace and Naval
  • Automotive
  • Agricultural
  • Biomedical and Pharmaceutical
  • Electronics
  • Manufacturing
  1. Scalable and Flexible

We’ve heard the phrase “VLM’s tend to have babies” and we agree! Once a company realizes the immediate benefits of a VLM, additional VLMs are often and easily added. The VLM WMS software then automatically coordinates operations of multiple VLMs in an impressive symphony of picking and replenishing efficiency.

Moving warehouses? Not a problem, another great feature of a VLM is ease of break-down, moving, and install into a new location - even changing height requirements!

About the Author

John Fontaine

Automation Sales Lead

After a 9 year career as an officer in the US Navy Submarine Force, John developed vital experience in the advanced manufacturing and unmanned systems with business development roles at two major defense contractors. In directing the growth of ISS Material Shelving, a division of Industrial Shelving Systems, John’s mission is clear: to remain thoroughly customer-focused, ensuring that businesses who partner with ISS Material Handling seize the right opportunities for automation adoption, fueling responsible growth amidst challenging economic circumstances. When not in the office, John enjoys all things music, cooking, and fitness.

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